Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon impacts Clark County residents

Ken Vance, Editor
Ken Vance, Editor

VANCOUVER — Residents in Clark County were given warnings throughout the day Tuesday about the impacts of the Eagle Creek Fire, which started Saturday near Cascade Locks, OR.

Law enforcement officials in Skamania County have reported the fire jumped the Columbia River early Tuesday and is now burning near Archer Mountain in Skamania County.

Clark Regional Emergency Services (CRESA) reported Tuesday afternoon “there are no active wildfires currently in Clark County. The plume of smoke visible from Washougal and East County are from the Archer Mountain fire in Skamania County. At this time no evacuation levels have been ordered for residents of Clark County.’’

For the latest information, view the Skamania County Sheriff’s or CRESA’s Facebook page. More information can also be found at http://cresa911.org/blog/ .

In Clark County, area residents witnessed the effects of smoke and ash overnight and throughout the day Tuesday. The smoke and ash are coming to the area from the Eagle Creek Fire, which started Saturday near Cascade Locks, OR. Photo by Mike Schultz
In Clark County, area residents witnessed the effects of smoke and ash overnight and throughout the day Tuesday. The smoke and ash are coming to the area from the Eagle Creek Fire, which started Saturday near Cascade Locks, OR. Photo by Mike Schultz

According to information provided by the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Natural Resources “is currently working a forest fire on the south side of Archer Mountain.’’

Washougal Mayor Sean Guard reported on his Facebook page, “The Archer Mountain fire is NOT contained, but it is deemed relatively small now and fire officials have sent our local firefighters home from it.’’

The Camas-Washougal Fire Department issued a news release Tuesday afternoon banning recreational burning in the cities of Camas and Washougal.

“Effective immediately, all outdoor recreational burning is prohibited by order of the Fire Chief in the cities of Camas and Washougal,’’ the release stated. “This is due to the extreme fire danger and poor air quality being experienced in the area at this time. We do not anticipate lifting this ban until a significant and sustained change in weather occurs this fall. Outdoor gas and charcoal barbecues or fireplaces are not affected by this ban.’’

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) reported travel restrictions on State Route 14 in the Columbia River Gorge. Commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds gross weight are prohibited from traveling both directions of SR 14 between Washougal (milepost 19) and US 197 in Dallesport (milepost 84.

“Emergency crews battling a wildfire are busy in the area, and other travelers should avoid the highway until further notice,’’ WSDOT reported.

In Oregon, Interstate 84 was closed between Troutdale and The Dalles.

Many Clark County residents started Tuesday with an observance of ash and debris on their vehicles, which accumulated from the Eagle Creek Fire near Cascade Locks, OR. The fire jumped the Columbia River early Tuesday and was burning near Archer Mountain in Skamania County. Photo by Mike Schultz
Many Clark County residents started Tuesday with an observance of ash and debris on their vehicles, which accumulated from the Eagle Creek Fire near Cascade Locks, OR. The fire jumped the Columbia River early Tuesday and was burning near Archer Mountain in Skamania County. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office reported, “State Route 14 is open to all passenger vehicles, however it is very congested due to the fires and the traffic being routed from the closure of Interstate 84. Only travel if you have to. State Route 14 is closed to all semi traffic in both directions.

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick encouraged area residents to curb their behavior due to the poor air quality caused by the fires.

“To prevent problems from heat and smoke, we encourage people to avoid or limit physical activity outdoors, take shelter in air-conditioned buildings, and drink plenty of fluids,” Melnick said in a release. “Elderly people and the very young are especially vulnerable during periods of intense or prolonged heat. Don’t forget your pets.”

In the release from Clark County Communications, officials indicated that smoke from widespread wildfires is likely to create poor air quality for much of this time, and residents should be alert to local fire danger from excessively dry conditions, wind and heat.

Smoky air can cause eye, nose and throat irritation and a range of respiratory problems. It can also aggravate existing lung, heart and circulatory conditions such as asthma and angina.

People should avoid physical exertion outdoors if the air is smoky. People with asthma or other lung diseases should follow their medical management plans and stay indoors. They should consider leaving the area or spending time in an air-conditioned cooling center if their homes lack air conditioning and it is too hot to keep windows and doors closed.

Virtually every school district in Clark County has limited outdoor activity for students, including moving practices of athletic teams indoors. Most outdoor sports events scheduled for Tuesday have been postponed.

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is coordinating with the U.S. Forest Service on the Eagle Creek Fire. Officials reported there are currently no BPA customers without power from this fire.

“With the fire expanding to the Washington side of the Columbia River, we are closely monitoring transmission corridors in the vicinity of the fires,’’ read a BPA release Tuesday afternoon.

A useful resource for tracking the fire relative to BPA’s transmission system can be found at: http://bpagis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Viewer/index.html?appid=a1dde3b6edee4abea69f3a2bc7c5cca9 .

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office also detailed current evacuation notifications. A Level 3 evacuation notice was given for McLosky Creek Road, urging residents in that area to “Go!’’ immediately. Later, Level 3 notices were added for Archer Mountain Road, Smith Cripe Road, Franz Road, Dimrill Dale Drive, Kellet Road and Victoria Lane.

Level 2, or “get ready’’ notices were given for Patrick Lane and Foggy Ridge Road, What Road, New Berry Road, Columbia River Road and Mabee Mines Road.

For information regarding evacuations, contact the Skamania County Emergency Operations center at (509) 427-8076 or go to the Skamania County Sheriff’s Facebook page for updates.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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